Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Interview - GATES OF DAWN

Gates Of Dawn is based in France and features Keith Boyce of the Heavy Metal Kids playing a very different style of music to that which he has been associated with, in his previous work with the Kids, Rod Stewart, Elton John, etc.
The band also features French chanteuse Isabelle Lemauff who has a very impressive musical career, having sung rock, pop, R&B, soul, jazz, salsa etc.
Together, Keith and Isabelle have created songs that are not in the style that Get Ready To Rock generally covers, but we include an interview with them here because the response to their album has been very encouraging, and they are already starting to build a following amongst fans of traditional classic rock.

(Thanks again to Battttty for this one)

1. What are Gates Of Dawn currently up to (studio/live/etc)?

Keith: The line-up is just Isabelle and me and currently we're inside the studio almost exclusively. I'd love to be out playing more but apart from our own stuff we've been working on other albums for other acts and that's taking up all our time at the moment. Also we've been getting more involved in video production and we've just finished a clip of one of the tracks from our CD. It's Cloud 9 and you can see it on our site now.

2. Give us a brief history of Gates Of Dawn.
Isa: Keith and I have been working together for a few years now. We met when we were about to go out on tour with the French singer Nino Ferrer and decided that we would create our own music at some point.
Keith: Yeah, so we set about writing together and after a while we started putting a studio together so that we could have the freedom to record without restrictions. Since then we've recorded loads of songs and put out a CD and we are now working on new material as well as producing and recording other people.

3. Who was/is/are/were are the biggest influences on the the music you play?

Keith: That's a hard question. I like so many types of music. But my all time favourite band has to be the Small Faces which almost everyone who knows me is sick of hearing as I play them constantly and go on about them and I have almost everything they ever recorded!! Steve Marriott is the best Rock Singer ever and they had fantastic songs, and great arrangements, the look, everything really. Then there's the Who. Another band who had it all. The Kinks are great as well and I love Ray Davies's very English lyrics. Not sure how much that has a bearing on our music with G.O.D. though. Another big influence of mine is old Soul Music but again I''m not sure that's obvious with what we do. Then I love really raw rock like Iggy and the Stooges and the MC5 and a lot of the really trashy 60's garage bands. Oh I saw the MC5 here in Toulouse last year and they were fantastic. Another brilliant gig I just saw was Love in London. Arthur Lee was so cool and has still got the pipes and they've got great songs and they played amazing. When they played "7 and 7 is" it was like a rocket taking off!
Isa: I've got lots of different influences too even if they're not the same as Keith's. I grew up with French pop music from the 70 and the 80's. At the same time I was hearing French "traditional" accordion music that my parents were listening to, the classical music of my sister, and the Anglo-Saxon pop-rock music from the 60's & 70's that my older brothers listened to. Later I discovered Bossa nova and Jazz. It's given me a very large frame of reference that allows me to say that I like nearly all music. I was impressed by the talent of "being able to do everything" of Kate Bush (who I really admire) and Véronique Samson, the talent of composition of Charles Trenet and Serge Gainsbourg, the beautiful writing and interpretation of Jacques Brel and also, the fantastic arrangements of Michel Legrand.

4. Do you see the interest in the this style of music growing in France and the rest of Europe at the moment? And in the UK? And worldwide?

Keith: Don't know how much it's growing but I think there's a lot of people out there that are sick and fed up with the stuff that radio forces upon them. So I think there will be more room for music that's not just made to a formula.
Isa: If it's different enough, probably there's always an interest here and everywhere.

5. You produce your own albums and have also produced other bands' work in your studio, and you make videos too. Tell us more about that.

Isa: Yeah that's true. The fact that we had to find solutions to be able to build something on our own made us determined. So we had to do everything. By that I mean not only compose and write, but also play all the instruments, arrange, produce, record etc. This obligation became a real pleasure and after all that we became very independent - helped, of course, by the new technology. Then as we became more proficient at what were were doing people started to ask us to help them do what we were searching for a few years ago!
Keith: One of the albums we've just done is by Psycho Lemon and that's just been released and is getting good reviews, and picking up airplay, so that's great. Another we've just finished is by a band called Vénus Del Rocco. I think they've got something and they could do well over here. Isabelle has put a lot of work into both acts and I've helped out where I can with loops and drums, percussion, programming and I've mastered the tracks too.
I've also been working on an album by Mickey Waller/Finn who was the first Heavy Metal Kids guitarist. I'm playing drums on it and mixing it and Isa is doing back up vocals and all sorts of other stuff. Mickey's got a great feel and he's really one of a dying breed when it comes to rhythm guitar and that Keith Richards type of playing . His singer Joanne is great as well. It's quite raw and rocky so it's a change from the other stuff we've been working on lately. As well as that I've been busy with video stuff. Really that's taking up a lot of time but it's fun and goes hand in hand with music. It's something I'd like to develop further and I've had some success already as a clip I did for the Heavy Metal Kids of the song Message was shown on Swiss TV recently.

6. What would you like to achieve ideally by the end of 2005?

Keith: I should say to 'have a hit' but that's a bit lame so I'll settle for... to make a record that I'm really happy with and that people really like.
Isa: I'd like lots of projects from different horizons, and why not even make some film music!

7. How important do you feel the internet is for promoting your music?

Isa: It's getting more and more important for the people who want to present something different judging by what we can see on the TV or listening to the radio. On that level, there's no room for new faces or for artists that aren't mainstream.
Keith: I'd say it's crucial nowadays for any band to have a strong presence on the net. As we know the big record companies have lost it so there's only a slim chance any new band will get a look in with them. So one of the alternatives is to promote yourself through the net and sell some records that way and it's working more and more like that it seems.

8. Yours is a very different sound to anything by the Heavy Metal Kids, even though Isabelle did feature on the Kids' recent album (Hit The Right Button). Are HMK fans surprised when they hear Gates Of Dawn material? What sort of reaction do you get from HMK fans?

Keith: Well I've had quite a few HMK fans say that they like what we're doing with Gates of Dawn but I must say some are very surprised when they first hear it as it sounds more modern than they would expect - but the response has been very positive. Many have said that we're bringing a breath of fresh air to the music scene. As I said before I like all sorts of music so it's natural for me to branch out rather than limit myself to just making one style of music all the time.

9. You are heavily involved with the writing of the Gates Of Dawn songs - even though drummers aren't usually noted for being prolific songwriters! Does this come easily to you, and if so, why do you think that is?

Keith: Well I go through stages with writing. Sometimes I can't get the ideas down quick enough and other times it's really hard coming up with anything. I don't think I'm alone here. Often I think I've let a good idea slip away as I didn't have a tape recorder handy to put it down on but I'm learning that others ideas come along so best not to panic!

10. Please give us a message for your fans.

Keith: Stay cool and buy our CD! (Available on our website)
Isa: I love you all!


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